With expertise in government, academics, social welfare, and mental health, Delores L. Parron-Ragland was a highly-regarded figure in her communities. She championed the concerns of the underrepresented, fought for the rights of those who couldn’t fight for themselves, and was genuinely devoted to using her position to help others. Initially in child welfare as a social worker for the Spence-Chapin Adoption service and an adoption selection social worker for the Child Welfare Division of the District of Columbia Department of Human Resources, Dr. Parron transitioned to the role of psychiatric social worker with the Hillcrest Children’s Center in 1969.
The hands-on experiences gave Dr. Parron a wealth of new knowledge, which she sought to share with her peers as an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the Hoard University College of Medicine from 1971 to 1978. At that time, she joined the Presidential Commission on Mental Health as a social science analyst and the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences as a senior program officer. The opportunity led her to help start a new Division of Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine, which influenced new initiatives in medicine.
Dr. Parron broke more new ground in 1983, when she became the first person to fill the legislatively mandated position of associate director for special populations at the National Institute of Mental Health. There, she was actively involved in the creation of Public Law 103-43, the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, a mandate that resulted in the formation of the Culture and Psychiatric Diagnosis Group. Before her retirement in 2007, Dr. Parron also worked as the deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and as a science adviser for Capacity Development with the National Institutes of Health.
To prepare for her endeavors, Dr. Parron earned a PhD in philosophy and a master’s degree in social work from Catholic University in 1977 and 1968, respectively, and a Bachelor of Arts from Georgian Court College, now Georgian Court University, in 1966. She holds certificates from the Brookings Institution, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Federal Executive Institute. She also joined organizations like the National Association of Social Workers and the American Psychological Association.
In recognition of her success, Dr. Parron earned an Alumni Service Award from Georgian Court College and the Catholic University of America, and a pioneer honor from the National Association of Social Workers. From the American Psychological Association, she received a Meritorious Research Service Commendation, a Distinguished Achievement Award from the group’s Minority Fellowship Advisory Committee, and a Distinguished Leader for Women honor from the group‘s Committee on Women in Psychology. She was also elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Her accomplishments have been highlighted in numerous editions of Who’s Who of American Women and the 64th edition of Who’s Who in America.